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After the apocalypse, Aziraphale set about inventorying his books. "It looked like there were some new editions," Crowley had told him, over sandwiches and champagne at the Ritz. "Well, old editions. Boys-own-adventure sorts of books. All very charming." Aziraphale was touched that Crowley had noticed. And he was right, too: Aziraphale was now the owner of beautiful first editions of Robert Louis Stevenson, W.E. Johns, Richmal Crompton. Briefly he debated setting up some kind of window display and actually advertising the books for sale, but he felt this wouldn't be a gracious way to treat Adam's gift, and moreover he had no interest in attracting customers who might purchase a Crompton and then expect they would be allowed to buy other books. Instead, Aziraphale emailed several rare book dealers of his acquaintance, and left it up to them to make the actual sales.

London summer was properly underway by this point. Soho flooded with tourists, some of whom pressed their noses curiously to the windows of Aziraphale's shop and made him think uncharitable thoughts. The air was thick and hot and dense with car fumes. The inside of the bookshop remained perfectly temperature-controlled, cool and dry, which had the unfortunate side-effect of making people linger in the stacks, exclaiming over how pleasant it was to be out of the heat. Eventually, in desperation, Aziraphale put up a sign that said CLOSED FOR THE SEASON, but even that didn't entirely dissuade hopefuls from tapping on the glass of the front doors.

"It really is very bothersome," Aziraphale said to Crowley. They were at a pub just down the street, sitting at an outdoor table. Aziraphale nibbled a cress sandwich and stared balefully at the people malingering outside AZ Fell and Co.

"Your problem is," Crowley said, "you don't look closed for the season. If those people can see you puttering around inside, they're going to trust that more than they'll trust your sign. Nobody reads signs. Especially not signs that say things they don't want to hear."

"What do you suggest, then?"

"You could make it look closed." Crowley made a vague gesture which suggested that by make he meant miracle, but Aziraphale was already shaking his head.

"That would be lying," he protested, and when he saw Crowley's knowing twitch of a smile, he amended, "I'd rather not call any more attention to myself than strictly necessary. We must assume we're being monitored, even if we're being left alone at the moment, so it seems best not to do too many--" He made the same vague gesture.

"Frivolous miracles?" Crowley said dryly. "Come on, angel, this is exactly the time for it." He reached out to Aziraphale's water glass, and from his fingertip came a spreading bloom of dark red, clouding the water in moments. The glass was not an ideal shape for a wine vessel, but when Crowley nudged it towards him, and Aziraphale took a curious sip, it was an excellent vintage of Pavillon Rouge. Aziraphale closed his eyes, sighing appreciatively, and when he opened them again, he caught Crowley's expression, open and fond.

He expected Crowley to glance away, or to cover that expression with something else. But Crowley just grinned and said, "See? Frivolous miracles."

Aziraphale's heart made a credible leap for freedom, unwilling to be confined to the cage of his ribs in the face of the way Crowley was looking at him. He ignored it; he'd had thousands of years of practice. "Much as I appreciate the wine," Aziraphale said, "which is very appreciated, thank you, Crowley--" and here he paused, but Crowley didn't get his back up about being thanked, or indeed seem to notice anything remarkable about it -- "I can't just pretend I'm not at home. Somehow customers still know you're there." He shuddered.

Crowley gave him a half-mocking, half-sympathetic pout. "Only thing for it, then," he said. "Don't pretend to be closed for the season. Be actually closed for the season."

"You mean ... go on holiday?" Aziraphale ventured.

"Sure, why not?"

Why not, indeed. They'd survived the almost-end of the world. They'd tricked both Above and Below. Aziraphale had shocked the Archangel Michael into miracling him a towel. The summer promised to be smoggy and sweltering, and Crowley was still smiling, sitting next to him in a contented sprawl without any air of expectation. Go on holiday.

"Why not," Aziraphale repeated. "That's a splendid idea. Where should you like to go?"

+

It occurred to Aziraphale, belatedly, that perhaps Crowley hadn't been proposing they go on holiday together. Aziraphale had rather leapt to conclusions. But Crowley hadn't corrected him, and now, a week later, they were rolling through the village of Longsbury, the Bentley's windows down to let in the shocking cleanness of country air. Aziraphale, who as a rule had spent as little time in the country as possible since the invention of the city, was surprised to discover that the air smelt of sun-warmed turf and faintly of the sea, and not at all of wet sheep. Longsbury didn't have quite the perfect, timeless quality of Lower Tadfield, but there was something of the same air to it, a pleasant untouched-ness that came of being just far enough from the seaside resorts to have been overlooked by the march of progress.

Aziraphale watched the village green go by. "Why the South Downs?" he inquired. "Why not ... the Galapagos? Or the Chinese highlands? Or Morocco?"

"We can go there next, if you like," Crowley said. "I don't know, I just felt like staying close to home."

"I don't mind," Aziraphale felt compelled to say, even though Crowley hadn't sounded particularly worried about what Aziraphale thought. "This is very nice."

Crowley made a small noise that sounded like a token protest at Aziraphale using that sort of language, but his heart clearly wasn't in it. They were driving through the outskirts of the village now, and Crowley pulled over outside a small cottage, surrounded by a tangled garden and a low wall. "Here we are," he said. "Three pubs in town, two with pretty good online reviews, and the beach is just a short drive away, and this is ours until September."

He said it all very casually. Crowley was prone to bouts of intense casualness whenever he was afraid he might be going too far. If he'd presented the pubs and the beach and the cottage with any kind of smugness, Aziraphale could have chided him for showing off and told him again that it was quite idyllic, and they could have got on with their day. Instead, Aziraphale was left with the knowledge that this was serious. He felt, as he had any number of times over the past millennia, that he was being handed something fragile and precious, and that he would need to mind very carefully how he went.

"Well," Aziraphale managed, "it isn't the Galapagos, but I suppose it will do." He glanced sideways at Crowley, offering him a smile.

"Come on, then," Crowley said, practically levitating out of the car. Aziraphale took a moment to collect himself before following suit. Crowley was already halfway up the garden path, going as fast as usual. Aziraphale collected their bags from the back and met him at the door, where Crowley had just finished working his way through the locks. He took one of the bags from Aziraphale and opened the door with a flourish.

Inside, the cottage was very pleasant, if a little musty. Crowley set about opening windows (and, Aziraphale suspected, doing several minor miracles to get the place aired out faster) while Aziraphale unpacked their food in the kitchen. They'd be well-stocked for at least the first few days, and there were plenty of provisions for a picnic.

Finished in the kitchen, Aziraphale took inventory of the rest of the cottage. There was a sitting room, with a reading nook and a small television and a promisingly plump sofa; a bedroom, quite sensibly with only one bed, as Aziraphale had never picked up Crowley's habit of sleeping; a small loo, superfluous to their needs. The décor was sparse, which was just as well: Aziraphale had half-formed visions of seashell sculptures engraved with life is better by the sea, and he much preferred a house without much personality to one with appalling taste.

"So," Crowley said, bouncing on his heels in the bedroom doorway, "up to standard?"

"Yes, I should think so," Aziraphale said. "Well done."

Crowley made another noise of token protest, even more halfhearted than the previous attempt. "What do you want to do today?"

"Lunch," Aziraphale said, "and the beach, after. We should do this holiday properly."

+

Lunch was at one of the two pubs that had good internet reviews. It was, indeed, good, and Aziraphale spent several minutes relaxing in the aftermath before he roused himself. Crowley grinned at him across the table and stole one of his few remaining chips.

They drove down to the beach, which was close enough to several other, more popular beaches that the stretch of sand was mostly deserted. There was a scattering of families, small children frolicking in the waves, and an array of sunbathers lying in the sand, but Aziraphale and Crowley had no trouble finding a place to spread their towels. Aziraphale ducked into the changing room further up the beach and emerged in the striped bathing costume he'd acquired in Brighton in 1926. Heading back down the beach, he froze.

Crowley was -- Crowley had--

Crowley was stretched full-length on a towel, facedown, wearing only a little black scrap of clothing that could, charitably, have been called an undergarment. There was nothing inherently indecent about it. There was nothing Aziraphale had ever found objectionable, or even very remarkable, about nudity. There was also nothing particularly unfamiliar about Crowley's body: he'd recently worn it, after all. But somehow Aziraphale felt wholly unprepared to be confronted with the entire expanse of Crowley's skin. A Victorian gentleman catching a flash of ankle from the object of his affections might have felt much the same way Aziraphale did now.

He pulled himself together and continued down the beach, stopping next to Crowley and placing himself in Crowley's light. Crowley stirred and turned to squint up at him. His sunglasses were dangling from one hand, and Aziraphale caught a golden flash of his eyes. "'lo, Aziraphale," Crowley said.

"I was thinking I might go for a swim," said Aziraphale.

"Mm, yeah, go on. I'm gonna catch some sun."

"Mind you don't get burnt," Aziraphale said.

"I won't." Crowley stretched, every inch of him radiating satisfaction. "Snakes love the sun. World's best heat lamp. And I'm a demon. I'm not going to get burnt."

"Well, all right," Aziraphale said, and left him there. The water was very nice. It was chilly, and therefore perfect for the hot day. Gentle waves lapped against the shore. Further down the beach, children shrieked and laughed and splashed one another. Aziraphale waded far enough out to get a proper swim, and went several laps within sight of the shore.

He could still see the length of Crowley, sprawled like a contented reptile. What an absurd, dear creature he was, Aziraphale thought, with an upwelling of affection that briefly shivered the water into circles radiating out from his body. Aziraphale winced and got that under control. It was one thing to go on holiday with Crowley; it was quite another to gaze longingly upon him from a distance and disturb the very sea. Any longing gazes should be done from ... up close, and with a minimum of disruption to the environment.

Aziraphale swam more lengths up and down the shoreline, until he was reasonably certain that he could step back onto the sand without it turning to glass under his feet.

"You're dripping," Crowley greeted him, muffled, when Aziraphale returned.

Aziraphale ignored this, toweling off his hair. "Having a good time sunbathing?"

"The bessst," Crowley said, a satisfied hiss in his voice. He rolled over languidly, treating Aziraphale to a view of a whole new expanse of skin. Aziraphale willed the sand not to sizzle beneath his toes. Crowley didn't seem to notice anything amiss. "Good swim, then?"

"Yes," Aziraphale said, and, as Crowley moved to sit up, "I don't want to rush you. I could try out sunbathing too."

"All right," Crowley replied amiably, returning to his sprawl. Now that he was facing upwards, he groped around his head until his fingers landed on his sunglasses, which he slid back onto his face. Then, by all appearances, he immediately fell asleep.

Aziraphale sat down on his towel. He watched the children running through the surf. He watched a couple venture into the water and paddle about and emerge again, holding hands. He watched a group of university students unpack their lunch, and he absently made sure that no sand got into their food before he remembered that he was trying to be sparing with the miracles (though surely there was no harm if the miracle was to better the days of the humans around him). Mostly, he watched Crowley, whose hair glinted like fire in the sun, and whose pale skin was probably going to be all freckly by tomorrow, if Aziraphale's memories of meeting Crowley in deserts were correct.

Objectively speaking, Crowley wasn't doing anything interesting. He was supine in the sun, breathing evenly, looking more relaxed than Aziraphale could recall him ever having looked before, and it was very hard for Aziraphale to feel anything but helpless adoration. He did his best anyway, partly out of habit, and partly because he felt he should save it for when Crowley was awake.

Eventually, the oncoming sunset and a growing interest in dinner forced Aziraphale to lean over and say, "Crowley, wake up."

Crowley did nothing of the sort.

Aziraphale wasn't a complete stranger to this. He'd awoken any number of humans from naps in his time. But repeating his words louder didn't do the trick, nor did pointedly clearing his throat, so Aziraphale was obliged to reach out and give Crowley's bare shoulder a gentle shake. The quality of Crowley's breathing changed, and Aziraphale snatched his hand back. "Crowley?"

"Mmhm." Crowley sat up blearily. "What time is it?"

"Nearly suppertime," Aziraphale said. "I didn't think you'd want to drive back to the village in the dark."

"Nearly--? Angel, you didn't have to hang around all afternoon," Crowley said, sounding delighted.

"I should think that's what a holiday is," Aziraphale returned. "Hanging around all afternoon, and napping, and that sort of thing."

"I suppose," Crowley said, stretching luxuriously. "Thanks all the same."

Better not, Aziraphale thought, reflexively. He didn't say it aloud. Crowley seemed to have already shed the habit of hiding behind plausible deniability, which Aziraphale admired.

There was still time for him to catch up. They had the whole summer.

+

The next day they went for a picnic. The majority of Aziraphale's holiday packing had been the picnic food, which he happily arranged in a basket, shooing Crowley out of the kitchen every time Crowley attempted to stroll through. "It's a surprise, Crowley."

"A surprise," Crowley muttered, in tones that suggested he was attempting to mimic Aziraphale's voice and failing. Nevertheless, he skulked in other parts of the cottage until Aziraphale was ready to go.

They drove out of the village and up into the surrounding hills. Crowley parked the Bentley on the turf, off the road through an obliging gap in a hedgerow, and from there it was only a few minutes' walk to a gentle rise, from which they could see the winding road, and the steeple of the Longsbury church, and the glint of the sea in the distance.

Aziraphale spread out a tartan blanket, and gestured Crowley to sit. Once Crowley had folded himself onto the blanket, Aziraphale produced the picnic with a flourish: sausage rolls, scones with clotted cream, scotch eggs, stilton on crackers, Eton mess, jam tarts, and a thermos of tea for each of them. "There," Aziraphale said, settling himself next to Crowley on the blanket. He couldn't help beaming at the spread. "That should just about do it, I think."

Crowley reached out and took one of the scotch eggs. He put it in his mouth and, by all appearances, swallowed it whole. "Yeah," he said. "'s good, angel."

Pleased, Aziraphale set to eating. Everything was perfectly scrummy. The sun was shining down on them, a faint breeze whispering through the grass. Beside him, Crowley nibbled on bits of the cheese and crackers, slowly collapsing from a sitting position into a comfortable lounge, propped up on his elbows with his legs stretched out. Aziraphale felt that upwelling of affection again, and small wildflowers came into bloom on the hillside. Crowley didn't seem to notice.

"Been planning this a while, have you?" he asked, gesturing offhandedly to the spread.

"I suppose," Aziraphale said. "That is to say, I did take some time to consider what the ideal picnicking foods would be, and to make sure I had them all for our holiday."

"Mm." Crowley regarded Aziraphale with his head tilted. "How much time?"

"Well, I don't really--"

"Fifty years, give or take?" Crowley suggested.

Ah. Yes. That. Crowley hadn't made a production of it when they'd first dined at the Ritz -- 1976, after Crowley had grown that appalling moustache, and invited Aziraphale to dinner to give him a courtesy warning about the M25 project; the Ritz had been Aziraphale's choice -- but there was, perhaps, a difference between going to the Ritz among a rotation of other London restaurants, and this. Aziraphale had arranged everything about this picnic very carefully. He'd wanted it to be perfect. It was perfect.

"Yes," Aziraphale said, taking a gulp of tea, "that sounds about right."

"Well," Crowley said. A smile was starting at the corners of his mouth, slow and helplessly fond, a smile that Aziraphale cherished and tried to never draw attention to, in case Crowley realized what he was doing and stopped. A feeling like honey suffused the air around them, a kind of languorous sweetness; it was a greater spillover of emotion than Aziraphale had been able to sense from Crowley in quite some time. "Good thing the food's all right, then," Crowley said. "It would have been really embarrassing if you'd planned it for fifty years and then the food was rubbish."

"Quite," said Aziraphale. He was fairly sure more wildflowers were blooming, but he didn't turn his head to check. "Scone?"

"Don't mind if I do." Crowley reached for the plate of scones, his fingers brushing Aziraphale's. The whole blessed hill was probably in bloom. A flock of birds took off from the field below, in a great clatter that seemed to be in sympathy with the unsteady beat of Aziraphale's heart. Crowley ate the scone with that soft, fond look still on his face, and Aziraphale wished to press this moment like flower petals between the pages of a book, to be preserved and cherished for the rest of time.

+

On the third day, it rained.

"England," Crowley said, scowling out the window into the dismal morning. "It's always so blessed damp. Remind me why we left Italy?"

"Well, Rome was a bit charred at the time," Aziraphale said mildly from the sofa. It was just as comfortable as he could have hoped. He had been reading when Crowley wandered off to bed and had only paused a few times since, once to peer outside when the rain started around two in the morning, and again, some hours later, to fix himself tea and toast and leftover picnic sausage rolls for breakfast. He peered at Crowley over his reading glasses. "Tea?"

Crowley made a disgruntled noise and collapsed next to Aziraphale on the sofa. There was only one teacup on the table and, rather than miracle himself another, Crowley simply topped this one off and sipped at it, giving the pouring rain dark looks.

"I didn't have anything planned for today anyway," Aziraphale said. "And part of the point of a holiday must be to simply ... relax, and not do much at all. I brought plenty of books."

"Books," Crowley repeated, in tones of defeat. "You're telling me you're going to read all day."

"Yes, I do think so."

"Oh, all right," said Crowley. "Guess I'll just go back to sleep."

What, here? Aziraphale almost asked aloud. He stopped himself. He wanted to be in Crowley's company, whether or not Crowley was awake, and he wasn't about to say anything that would send Crowley retreating to the bedroom. "I don't understand what you find so enjoyable about sleeping, anyway," he settled for, turning back to his book.

"You should try it sometime," Crowley said. He set the teacup and his sunglasses on the table, and tipped sideways on the sofa, his head near Aziraphale's thigh and his legs half-curled.

"That doesn't look very comfortable," Aziraphale said. "You could, er."

Crowley cracked an eye open. Aziraphale gestured invitingly to his own lap. Crowley's other eye opened at that. His slit pupils had gone wider with surprise, and for a moment something complicated happened on his face, just too fast for Aziraphale to catch the particulars. Then Crowley made a noise of careless affirmation, wiggled closer, and settled into a much more comfortable-looking sprawl, his head resting on Aziraphale's lap.

Aziraphale felt a little dizzy.

He wasn't entirely sure what to do with his hands, or his book, or his breathing, the last of which he'd mostly forgotten to do at all for the last minute. Crowley was a warm, heavy weight against his leg, his eyes closed, his body language nearly as relaxed as it had been the other day on the beach. Aziraphale hesitantly propped his open book against the arm of the sofa, where he could comfortably hold it and leave his other hand still mostly free. Said other hand, even more hesitantly, hovered above Crowley's hair for a moment, and then settled very, very gently atop it.

Crowley made a soft humming sound. "'s nice."

Aziraphale felt a wash of gratitude. He curled his fingers, just a little, and petted through Crowley's hair. Crowley gave a shivering sigh. Again Aziraphale was visited with the feeling that he'd been handed something fragile and precious.

It took him almost an hour to remember that he was also supposed to be reading. In all that time, Crowley's breathing didn't fall off into the deeper cadence of sleep. Neither of them mentioned it.

+

By evening, the rain had let up. They ventured back into the village to try the other pub with good reviews on the internet, which was much the same as the first one had been, but with a slightly different beer selection, and the chips cut a bit thicker. Aziraphale enjoyed it all thoroughly.

"Do you -- do you catch yourself appreciating things more, now?" he asked Crowley, as they wandered back towards their cottage through the damp evening.

"Now meaning after the apocalypse?" Crowley considered. "I might do. I mean, I appreciated things already, that's why I didn't want them to go around ending."

"There is that," Aziraphale acknowledged. Crowley had adored his car from the first, and he kept beautiful plants, and he seemed to have quite a bit of fun keeping up with the latest human fashions. He'd known what Aziraphale liked, too, well enough to make Aziraphale feel miserable at the prospect of it all turning to ash, that fateful day eleven years ago. But Aziraphale meant something more specific than a general fondness for the world. "It's only -- it all feels like a gift, now. It was supposed to be over. We were supposed to be over. Which makes all of this feel very precious to me."

Crowley was quiet for a long moment.

"Yeah," he said, softly.

Aziraphale reached out and took Crowley's hand. His fingers curled around Crowley's passive palm for just long enough for Aziraphale to feel a burst of worry, and then Crowley was clutching back, convulsively, his grip too tight for it to be anything but awkward. Aziraphale didn't dare look at Crowley's face. They kept walking, hand-in-hand, surrounded by a silence that felt somehow both peaceful and fraught.

When Crowley let go of Aziraphale's hand, it was only because they'd reached the cottage, and he had to fumble in his pockets for the keys. He nearly dropped them several times.

"I was looking through the television guide earlier," Aziraphale said, following him inside, "and I saw there was a James Bond marathon on tonight."

"You read the tv guide." Crowley threw a grin over his shoulder. "Well, come on, then."

Most of the time, Crowley and Aziraphale's tastes only overlapped in the barest degree. They appreciated a well-curated art show, and most live theater, and their opinions on musicals were in accord a surprising amount of the time, given how much incomprehensible bebop Crowley liked to listen to. But their other entertainments were not much to one another's liking: Aziraphale enjoyed Dumas, and Wilde, and Le Carre, and Crowley had lately been into a brightly-coloured television programme about hapless mortals debating their way through the afterlife while eating lots of shrimp. The one piece of entertainment from the last half-century that they really agreed on was James Bond.

It wasn't that James Bond was good. The films were silly, and appallingly sexist, and none of the plots made any sense. They were also fun. Aziraphale's own stint as a spy hadn't gone particularly well, but he quite enjoyed the fantasy of it. Crowley obviously did as well. He still had the bullet hole decals in the Bentley's window.

"Physics doesn't work like that," Crowley said happily, once they were settled in on the sofa with the television on. "You'd break both your legs. And your neck."

"That's why it's called suspension of disbelief," Aziraphale said primly, just to hear Crowley's noise of amused derision. "I'm quite sure seduction doesn't work the way these films suggest it does, either." He swore inwardly, even as the words escaped him.

But Crowley, sprawled next to him, didn't stiffen up. "It does not," he agreed. "Doesn't matter how good-looking one human thinks another is, it takes some kind of effort besides--" he flapped a hand "--emerging from the ocean like a Botticelli."

"He could at least take a girl out for a nice dinner," Aziraphale said, rather wishing he could stop himself saying things entirely.

"I think he does sometimes," Crowley said. "Depends on the Bond. And the girl." He slouched further, with every appearance of relaxation. "Anyway, you're right. Dinner's always a nice place to start."

"Yes," Aziraphale said. "Just so. Oh, that's rather a nice jump he did, isn't it?"

"Break both your legs," Crowley insisted; and so the night went on.

+

Longsbury held a farmers' market on the weekend, partly inside their church but partly, Aziraphale was relieved to see, outside it. He'd quite wanted to go, and it didn't seem sporting to leave Crowley waiting in the churchyard.

Aziraphale brought a basket and wandered happily between stalls, slowly filling it up with cheeses and apples and fresh-baked bread and mushrooms and pickles and smoked fish. He got rather carried away -- both the mushroom and cheese stalls were located inside the church -- but when he hurried back out to find Crowley lingering by a woolen goods stall, Crowley didn't look bothered.

"There you are," he said. "Got you something. New bow tie."

"Oh," Aziraphale said. Crowley was holding it up, looking pleased with himself. The bow tie in question was another tartan, in pale blues and greys that would be complementary to several of Aziraphale's button-ups. "That's lovely, Crowley," he managed. "It looks just the thing."

"About time you updated your wardrobe," Crowley said cheerfully, slipping the bow tie back into his own pocket. "Come on, I found the pastry stall."

By the time they'd explored the whole market, it was nearly lunchtime. The village green across from the church looked shady and inviting, and Aziraphale, who hadn't made his purchases with any particular theme in mind, suddenly felt that he'd collected a rather good lunch. "I didn't remember to bring the picnic blanket, though," he lamented.

"What, this old thing?" said Crowley, who did indeed now have the picnic blanket draped over one arm. "Come on, angel, lunch."

This spread was rather more haphazard than the one they'd had up in the hills, but the bread was warm, the apples crisp, the fish deliciously salty. They ate it together under a tree, watching the continued bustle of the market and the villagers going about their days. Insects hummed in the bushes. Aziraphale finished off an apple and leant back against the tree trunk with a contented sigh.

"Would you like to try it on?" Crowley asked. Aziraphale glanced over at him. "The bow tie," Crowley clarified.

"Why not," Aziraphale said. The whole business felt less weighted after lunch.

He expected Crowley to hand it over. He didn't expect Crowley to slide closer and, before Aziraphale had time to do anything more than blink in surprise, gently tug on the ends of the bow tie Aziraphale was currently wearing. It came undone in Crowley's hands. He wound it round his fingers into a loop, and then seemed to abruptly come to the end of his ability to play it cool, and held the deconstructed bow tie out to Aziraphale, looking awkward.

"Thank you," Aziraphale said softly. He took it from Crowley's hand. The cloth was warm from his body heat, and he immediately ruined Crowley's neat loop by clutching at it and crumpling it.

"Mm," said Crowley, fumbling in his pocket to produce the new bow tie. He leant forward again, and looped it around Aziraphale's collar. Crowley's face was almost unreadable behind his sunglasses, and his hands were almost steady as he tied the bow tie. He was so close. Aziraphale couldn't look away from his mouth.

"There," Crowley said, sounding breathless. He sat back. "Looks good."

For a single uncontrolled moment, Aziraphale was tempted to reach out, to take Crowley's dear face in his hands, to press his lips to Crowley's. "Crowley," he said, pouring all the affection he could muster into the word.

"Yes, well," Crowley said, and began collecting the remains of their lunch. Aziraphale assisted him, smiling all the while.

+

Aziraphale couldn't stop thinking about kissing Crowley.

This was not a terribly new state of affairs. He sometimes went whole days thinking about little else. He couldn't even recall the first time he'd considered it. He could remember watching Crowley try an oyster in Rome, head tipped back to swallow it, and how he'd seen the pale line of Crowley's throat and wanted to taste it, and that it hadn't been a new thought. It was like the Arrangement, in a way. Aziraphale could recall dozens of token protests and eventual agreements to do both a blessing and a temptation, but he didn't quite know when he'd first given in. Such was the desire to kiss Crowley: a well-worn thought, soft around the edges with time and repeated handling.

He liked kissing. It had been one of his favorite things about the gavotte. Kissing was pleasantly tactile, and most humans, when kissed, gave off a little burst of emotion in flavors of happiness: surprise, joy, affection.

He had no idea how it would feel to kiss Crowley. How Crowley would respond. What emotions Crowley wouldn't be able to hold back, spilling like ink into the air around them. When he thought of kissing Crowley, it was a longing for contact, a desire to know how his lips felt and how his skin tasted and the sort of noises he would make. It was a covetousness for discovery, and had little room for how a fantasy of Crowley might behave, when all Aziraphale wanted was the real thing.

They spent the afternoon wandering the market again. Crowley had got it into his head that their sparsely-decorated cottage could do with some indoor plants, after noticing a stall selling various potted specimens. As he poked around amid the greenery, Aziraphale stared at the back of Crowley's neck and thought helplessly about sucking on the skin under his ear. Aziraphale was then recruited to carry a few of the plants. Through their leaves he watched Crowley walking beside him, fingers curled around the sides of some pots, and thought about kissing Crowley's knuckles, or drawing Crowley's fingers into his mouth.

Back at the cottage, Aziraphale set the plants where directed. He watched Crowley wander around, placing the plants just so, positioning them in optimal lighting, readjusting their leaves, murmuring to them under his breath.

"What about the plants at your flat?" Aziraphale asked, wondering this for the first time.

"Hired someone to come by and water them," Crowley answered absently. "They'll be fine if they know what's good for them."

"Well, these ones look very nice," Aziraphale said. "Brighten the place up."

"Bet they'll bloom like anything," Crowley said, glancing over at him. "Don't think I didn't notice the wildflowers."

"Oh," Aziraphale said, feeling himself flush, "did you?"

Crowley smiled, another of those slow, fond, devastating smiles. "I did, yeah," he said.

He could probably sense Aziraphale's longing, too. It was vibrating the air around them like a plucked string, and Aziraphale couldn't bring himself to suppress it: he owed Crowley that much honesty, after everything. He stepped closer to Crowley, standing at his shoulder to look down at the plant arranged on the windowsill. Its broad leaves were very green. Crowley reached out, adjusting a few of the leaves, and the flash of his wrist above his sleeve was simply too much.

Aziraphale didn't think. He caught Crowley's sleeve, and raised his arm, and pressed a kiss to the inside of Crowley's wrist, the skin warm and delicate under his lips.

Crowley froze.

"All right?" Aziraphale asked, with a belated burst of anxiety. That had been terribly forward. He was still holding Crowley's arm.

"Yes," Crowley said, sounding off-balance and breathless, "yeah, that's -- yes."

Aziraphale did it again, lingering on Crowley's pulse point, his eyes on Crowley's face. Crowley's mouth had fallen open. He looked like an earthquake waiting to happen, as though if Aziraphale were to apply the wrong sort of pressure -- the right sort of pressure -- Crowley might shake apart. "Aziraphale," he said, his voice cracking.

"Too much?" Aziraphale asked, knowing the answer.

"No," said Crowley, which was both absolutely untrue and possibly the most honest thing he'd ever said. Aziraphale had the sudden, dizzy sense that he could do whatever he wanted with Crowley right then, and Crowley would let him.

Very reluctantly, Aziraphale released Crowley's arm.

"You're killing me," Crowley said, still breathing hard. "You're absolutely killing me, angel."

"I know," Aziraphale said. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to rush."

Crowley gave a short, wild laugh. "All right," he said. "Don't apologize. But -- yeah, yes, all right."

Aziraphale wanted to touch him again, a hand on his shoulder, perhaps, to comfort him or at least steady him. But the air was still singing with several frequencies of desire, and if Aziraphale touched Crowley, something was going to snap. He didn't want that. If this was going to happen, Aziraphale was going to get it right.

So he said, "Could you tell me what sort of care the plants require? I wouldn't want to make you do all the work."

Crowley held onto the tension for a moment longer, and then visibly let it go. "Sure," he said. "Water, sun, encouraging talks. Come on, I'll tell you how much water each of them needs. How did you go around being a gardener for that many years without knowing the first thing about plant care, anyway?"

+

They took a day trip to Worthing, mostly to have lunch somewhere besides the village pubs. They wandered a lovely garden above the sea, and took in the local art gallery, and had dinner at a restaurant near the pier, and strolled along the boards at sunset. It was all perfectly lovely.

Walking back to the Bentley from the pier, Aziraphale offered Crowley his hand. Crowley took it without hesitation, his grip tight enough to have the flavor of desperation. Aziraphale felt terrified, and exhilarated, and incredibly silly for feeling it all so strongly.

It was after dark when they arrived back at the cottage. Aziraphale, who had purchased a rather nice Cabernet Franc at the restaurant, fumbled around in the back to retrieve it from where it had rolled under a seat, and hurried to catch up with Crowley at the door. "Celebratory wine," he said, following Crowley inside.

"What are we celebrating?" Crowley wanted to know.

"It's ongoing," Aziraphale said. "The world keeps turning, and here we are."

"Here we are," Crowley agreed. He took the wine from Aziraphale and uncorked it.

They settled together on the comfortable sofa in the sitting room. "I'm sorry it's only the one bottle," Aziraphale added, watching as Crowley poured each of them a glass. "I didn't think to get more. I'm used to just ... miracling it full again, I suppose."

"Don't see why you shouldn't," Crowley said. "What is it you're worried about, anyway? I don't see what difference it makes, whether or not you go around doing miracles. It's not like they're going to reprimand you."

"No," Aziraphale said. "But all the same, I should think that the more miracles I do, the more I'm likely to draw attention to myself. And I would like to keep that to a minimum for as long as possible."

Crowley made a noncommittal noise, clearly unconvinced, and downed his wine. Aziraphale obligingly topped him off. "You can't have totally stopped, though," Crowley said. "Bookshop was temperature regulated."

"Oh, that's hardly for me, that's for the books."

"Those flowers on the hillside."

Aziraphale blushed. "That was accidental! They were responding to my presence. That barely counts at all."

"Nothing else?" Crowley asked. "You must've."

"I did make sure some university students didn't get sand in their lunch," Aziraphale admitted. "It was a reflex! I can't just -- just stop being an angel."

Crowley's expression softened. "No one's asking you to."

A kidnapping to Heaven and an attempted execution felt very much like a judgment on his qualities as an angel, whether or not it was also a tacit demand that he stop, but Aziraphale didn't point that out. Instead he refilled his own wine, had another drink, and said, "You've always been very kind to me, you know, whenever I've worried about this sort of thing. About whether I'll ... get into trouble."

He expected Crowley to bridle at kind. But Crowley did nothing of the sort. He sat quietly, swirling his wine around in its glass. Then he slid his sunglasses off, set them aside, and looked directly at Aziraphale. "You won't," he said, quiet and sure. "Above and Below both had their shot, and ... maybe the Almighty planned it this way, remember? I don't think She's likely to fault you a few frivolous miracles now."

"I suppose you're right," Aziraphale said. He did want that. He'd possibly never wanted anything more. "It's not any way to live, is it," he said, "always worrying you might do the wrong thing."

"No," Crowley said, gently, gently, "it isn't."

They were only a quarter of the way through the bottle between them, much too soon to even really be on the hazy edge of tipsy. Aziraphale rather wished he was already drunk, or at least within sight of drunkenness. This seemed like a whole lot to deal with sober. "You really needn't reassure me. I'm not worried about that now. It's only that I don't want to do anything that might put you in danger. And I -- I know that's silly. I know very well you can take care of yourself."

"You help, though," Crowley said. "You do."

"As do you," Aziraphale said, his voice sticking. "In any case--" he concentrated, and the Cabernet Franc was full again -- "more wine, Crowley?"

"Course," Crowley said, holding out his glass.

+

Now they were drunk.

The bottle was still full, which Aziraphale was fairly sure couldn't be his fault. He'd lost track of how many times he'd refilled his glass, or Crowley's, or Crowley had done the same for him. Crowley was almost horizontal on the sofa, only still nominally upright to keep from spilling his wine. Aziraphale had developed a mild slouch.

"Do you know," he said, "how bendy your spine is?"

"Like, on a scale of a bendy thing to a ... less bendy one?"

"Human spine to snake spine," Aziraphale said, holding his hands out to demonstrate the general range of his point. Wine sloshed over the edge of his glass and vanished just before hitting the sofa's upholstery. "And yours is over here, on the snake end."

"You've never been a snake," Crowley pointed out. "You don't know how bendy a snake is. From the inside."

"I've been inside you," Aziraphale countered, and Crowley began laughing, a helpless giggle, doubling over on himself. "Stop that," Aziraphale said, prodding at Crowley's shoulder. "You know what I mean. I've been you, and you're practically a snake, and -- Crowley, stop laughing, I'm trying to make a point."

"Uh huh," Crowley said, and cackled again.

"It's bendy," Aziraphale insisted. "Your spine. And your hips are all wiggly."

"You like that," said Crowley.

"Obviously," Aziraphale said. He poured himself more wine. "I like you."

"I know," Crowley said, sounding terribly smug. "'S what I've been telling you all along. Good of you to catch up." He contemplated Aziraphale with the seriousness of the deeply inebriated. "Did you know," he said. "Did you know. Your smile. It's. Makes me feel like my chest might cave in."

"That doesn't sound pleasant." Aziraphale was sure Crowley was exaggerating, but all the same.

"It is, though," Crowley said. "That's the really nonsense bit."

"It is," Aziraphale agreed, back on firmer ground. Through the haze of wine, he noticed that what Crowley was actually saying was that he liked Aziraphale, too. Aziraphale knew that. He'd known it with a horrible clarity since around 1100, which was at least a thousand years after the first time he'd thought of kissing Crowley, and some eight hundred and odd before it occurred to him that the specific quality of Crowley's regard could be very dangerous for both of them, if they actually admitted their feelings aloud.

It was also two weeks since any of that had mattered at all anymore.

"Crowley," Aziraphale said. "I think I'm ready now."

Crowley went very still. Aziraphale raised his drink-heavy head and saw that Crowley was looking at him with the sort of alert clarity that meant he'd abruptly made himself sober. Aziraphale felt a moment of disappointment -- this was all so much easier after however-many glasses of wine -- but he, too, removed its effects.

He didn't regret saying what he'd just said.

"I know," Crowley said, quietly. "What did you think this was?"

Aziraphale swallowed. His heart would insist on hammering away at a moment like this. "You've been terribly patient with me."

Crowley set his wine glass aside. Then he seemed not to know what to do with his hands and clenched them on his knees. "Worth it, though," he said.

"That's quite a thing to say before we've even got started," Aziraphale said, and was pleased to see Crowley's eyes go wide. Other than that, he didn't move, and Aziraphale felt a burst of affection: the air around Crowley was practically humming with longing, and he was still waiting for Aziraphale to make the first move.

It was only fair that Aziraphale do so, then.

He slid across the sofa, nearer to Crowley. He placed a hand, carefully, on the side of Crowley's face, and Crowley leaned into it with exactly the same fervent near-desperation he'd given to their cautious hand-holding. Aziraphale understood with a sudden clarity what Crowley had meant about the pleasantness of feeling as though his chest might cave in. The sheer enormity of it was overwhelming.

He pressed his lips to Crowley's, and discovered what kissing Crowley was like.

+

Crowley's lips were slightly parted. They yielded under Aziraphale's, and pressed back. Crowley's hands settled on Aziraphale's waist, trembling faintly. He tasted a little of Cabernet Franc, and a little like the embers of a bonfire smelled. It wasn't only his hands that were trembling, but his whole body, as though he was holding himself back, which was both very kind and wildly unnecessary. Aziraphale slid his lips along Crowley's, nudging them a little wider apart, and licked carefully into Crowley's mouth.

Crowley made a noise that sounded both wounded and ecstatic, and let Aziraphale in completely.

It wasn't surprise or simple affection that he was picking up from Crowley. It wasn't even lust, really, although there were notes of lust in there. It was love, an absolute torrent of love, in successive crashing waves of longing and wonder and terror and possessiveness. It filled Aziraphale up with joy and answering wonder. He held Crowley's face tenderly in his hands and continued to kiss him, doing his best to convey with his mouth alone that he knew, that he'd known for ages and he was sorry he'd taken so long and he was grateful that Crowley had waited and he loved Crowley too, much more than could be expressed in words.

Suddenly it didn't feel like enough. Aziraphale wanted to know everything. He abandoned Crowley's mouth, and Crowley made a soft involuntary noise at the loss of contact. Aziraphale was hardly satisfied either, but there was plenty of time still to memorize Crowley's mouth -- they had so much time -- and his new interest was in kissing along Crowley's jaw to find his pulse point. Crowley helpfully lifted his chin, tilting his neck to allow Aziraphale access to more skin, and Aziraphale gave him a light scrape of teeth in reward. A shudder went through Crowley's whole body at that.

"Crowley," Aziraphale murmured rapturously against his throat, and Crowley shuddered again.

Aziraphale threaded his hands in Crowley's hair and tugged gently. Crowley made another ecstatic wounded noise, hands clutching at Aziraphale's waistcoat, and leaned into Aziraphale's hands in clear invitation. Aziraphale obligingly tugged again, a little harder, and the notes of lust in Crowley's aura of love abruptly eclipsed everything else, with such force that Aziraphale felt his own body responding to it. "Oh," he breathed. "Oh, my dear."

"Do it again," Crowley said, sounding dazed.

Aziraphale did so. He wound the hair at the crown of Crowley's head around his fingers, as much as its current length would allow. He used it as leverage to pull Crowley's mouth back to his, and he kissed Crowley deeply, tightening the hands in Crowley's hair into fists. The noise Crowley made was exquisite. His mouth was starting to go a little slack, not kissing Aziraphale in return as much as simply allowing Aziraphale to kiss him. Given the sustained note of pure desire ringing inaudibly through the room, Aziraphale suspected that this was a symptom of enjoyment, but it was always good to be absolutely sure.

He pressed a softer kiss to Crowley's lips and asked, "All right, Crowley?"

"Ngh," said Crowley. It took him a moment to focus on Aziraphale's face. His eyes no longer had whites at the edges, and his pupils were huge. It was lovely. "'s perfect," Crowley said.

"I didn't know if you wanted more," Aziraphale said, which was almost untrue -- he could hear Crowley's body perfectly well, and everything it was saying was more more I love you please more -- but it felt terribly important to hear Crowley say it aloud. Crowley deserved to be given exactly what he wanted, and Aziraphale was damned if he was going to give him anything less.

"I do," Crowley said. "I want -- I want everything, just keep doing that, it's incredible--" and he tugged on Aziraphale's waistcoat, pulling him close and kissing him with focused fervency. Aziraphale tightened his hands in Crowley's hair and his mouth started to go slack again, willingly receiving what Aziraphale offered, as though he was becoming too overwhelmed to do anything more. Aziraphale adored him. Aziraphale was lit up with adoration, a near-overflow of affection and enjoyment and not a little lust of his own.

Some of it must have been too much for containment, because Crowley suddenly ducked his head, burying his face in Aziraphale's collar with a strangled moan. Aziraphale held him close and relished the echo he could feel of Crowley's orgasm.

Dear, delightful Crowley, always rushing ahead when Aziraphale was still savoring the appetizer.

"Well," Crowley said, breathless and a little muffled, "that certainly was a thing."

Aziraphale laughed, lifting Crowley's face with a finger under his chin, and gave him a swift peppering of kisses over his nose and forehead and cheekbones. "What next?" he asked.

"Next--" Crowley shifted and made a face. "Fewer clothes would be choice. That was messy."

"I would say we got a little lost in the weeds," Aziraphale said agreeably, "but really I could kiss you for hours, so I don't have any regrets on that count."

"Ngh," said Crowley, again.

"I have a lot of lost time to make up for," Aziraphale added. "Really, quite a lot. We should absolutely get started on that."

"Absolutely," Crowley said.

"So," Aziraphale said, fizzing with joy and amusement at having rendered Crowley incapable of complete sentences, "what are we working with today? In terms of sexual organs, I mean."

"Sexual organs," Crowley muttered. "A cock is my usual. Not actually recommended when you unexpectedly come in tight jeans, let me tell you."

"I'm terribly sorry," Aziraphale said, not sorry at all. "That sounds lovely. Not the tight jeans, I really don't understand why you wear those, but the cock. May I see it?"

Crowley swallowed. It didn't seem to be from nerves. The sustained inaudible note of desire ringing through the room hadn't lessened in the slightest, and Crowley's expression was one of open want. "Right," Crowley said, "yes," and shimmied for a moment, trying to unbutton his trousers and wriggle out of them, before he came to the same conclusion Aziraphale had already reached, which was: Crowley's jeans were impossible, and it was better to just vanish them. They disappeared. "So," Crowley said, "er, there you have it."

He must have also miracled the accompanying mess away with his trousers. Crowley obviously either didn't know about or was choosing to ignore mortal refractory periods: his cock was half-hard, still or again. It was sized quite pleasantly for Aziraphale's tastes, and Aziraphale was already reaching for it, much the same way he'd reached for Crowley's wrist the other day, when he remembered his manners. "Seeing it doesn't seem quite the thing," he said. "May I touch it, Crowley?"

"Please," Crowley said, clearly aiming for impatient and falling somewhere nearer to desperate.

Aziraphale did so. It was silky-soft and fever-hot, and it jumped when Aziraphale touched it, wetness beading the head under Aziraphale's thumb. Crowley's breathing was growing shuddery. His hips twitched upwards, his cock sliding through the loose circle of Aziraphale's hand. Aziraphale was visited with the wicked impulse to simply allow Crowley to continue, not doing anything at all to help, and see how long it would take for Crowley's control to fray. Not long, probably.

They would have time for that later. Crowley still deserved to be given exactly what he wanted, and while Aziraphale suspected that Crowley would thoroughly enjoy being slowly taken apart, Aziraphale had been going slow for more than long enough.

"It's lovely," Aziraphale said, giving Crowley's cock an appreciative stroke and enjoying the bitten-off moan this drew from him. "Now, shall I use my mouth, or would you rather fuck me?"

Crowley stared at him, open-mouthed. "Wha," he said. "I. Ngk."

Aziraphale smiled back, greatly enjoying that bit of total incoherence. "I can decide, if you like," he said.

"Yes," Crowley said. "Do that. Anything you want."

He could do whatever he wanted with Crowley, Aziraphale remembered, and Crowley would let him. That was a terrible responsibility. That was the loveliest gift imaginable. "I feel spoiled for choice," he admitted. "I should love to taste you, and I can hardly wait to feel you inside me."

Crowley made a strangled noise, his cock twitching in Aziraphale's hand. "You can't just say things like that," he rasped. "Six thousand years, and this is what you're like when you finally decide to have sex with me. Incredible."

"Please focus, Crowley," Aziraphale said, not bothering to hide how pleased he was to have transcended Crowley's expectations. "I'd like you to fuck me, and there are a few things we'll have to work out. Any preference for what I should manifest?"

"Nope, go wild," Crowley said. "Hold on, haven't you already...?"

"Well, yes," admitted Aziraphale, who had indeed manifested a cock from sheer sympathetic delight around the time he'd got his hands on Crowley's. "But I want to be flexible, if you have something you especially like."

The slow, fond smile was sliding across Crowley's face again, the loveliest possible addition to his tousle-haired dishabille. "You," Crowley said. "I like you."

The absolute dear, Aziraphale thought, with such affection that it probably caused every houseplant in the cottage to burst into confused bloom. He surged forward to kiss Crowley, who returned the kiss with startled enthusiasm. Crowley's mouth on his and Crowley's cock in his hand added up to an unsatisfactory amount of physical contact under the circumstances, which were: Aziraphale was deeply in love with Crowley, and wanted to be filled up with him, and had, in retrospect, waited a foolishly long time to do this.

It took an efficient series of minor miracles to rid himself of his clothing, and Crowley of the rest of his, and for Aziraphale to prepare his body such that he had a dizzying moment of feeling exquisitely, hungrily empty before he pressed Crowley back against the sofa, lined himself up, and sank down onto Crowley's cock.

(Let Heaven's accounting department deal with that.)

Crowley's head was flung back, his eyes squeezed shut, chest heaving and fingers clutching at Aziraphale's hips. Aziraphale hung on rather tightly to Crowley's shoulders, using them to balance himself while he settled, Crowley's cock a bright, heavy stab of pleasure inside him. "All right, my dear?" he asked. It came out breathier than he'd intended.

"Nngh," Crowley said. "You feel so good."

Under other circumstances, that statement might have been concerning. But Crowley didn't feel evil, so probably Aziraphale didn't feel good in that specific sense. There was no hellfire in this, no matter how much Aziraphale could feel his whole body flushing with heat as he shifted his hips, getting used to the unfamiliar feeling of Crowley inside him. Crowley was spot on: it did feel good, if good was the word for something so lovely that it was threatening to overwhelm them both.

"Mm, yes," Aziraphale agreed, and attempted a slightly less cautious movement, up and down again, driving Crowley deeper. He liked to think that the moan he made at that wasn't any more indecent than how he might sound when trying a particularly good slice of cake, but this was much better than even the best savoy sponge. Aziraphale did it again, and sighed happily, and settled into a slow, delicious rhythm.

Crowley's fingers were probably leaving bruises where he was gripping Aziraphale. His hips were twitching upwards, minutely, not quite in tandem with Aziraphale's movements. Aziraphale realized, through the haze of pleasure, that Crowley was actually attempting to keep still and allow Aziraphale to do what he liked, and that this was Crowley not quite being able to control himself. Aziraphale felt a burst of fond delight, and another wicked impulse, which he indulged by deliberately tightening around Crowley.

"Fuck," Crowley said, managing to turn the word into a hiss, his fingers scrabbling at Aziraphale's hips. "Please, please."

"Please what, my dear?" Aziraphale asked, knowing full well that Crowley wasn't actually asking for anything in particular. Crowley was awash in desire, and it was utterly intoxicating. Aziraphale rocked forward, close enough to kiss, and tasted the lovely desperation on Crowley's lips. Crowley kissed like he was drowning, a keening noise starting in the back of his throat, and Aziraphale drew back to murmur, "You can move, Crowley, please move."

Ah yes, he remembered a moment later, all those absurd things Crowley could do with his hips.

Crowley held tight to Aziraphale and drove up into him, a much harder and faster pace than the one Aziraphale had been setting. On the third thrust, Aziraphale saw stars, a whole explosion of light, as though Crowley had resparked Creation, and he gasped, "Exactly there, do that again." Crowley did so, with dedicated focus, again and again. Aziraphale shuddered, more stars bursting across his vision. "Perfect," he managed. "You're perfect."

The noise Crowley made at that was shocked, like he couldn't believe how much he'd enjoyed it. Under Aziraphale he was going very warm, a hectic heat, threatening to spill over. Aziraphale wanted that, so much it stole his breath.

"Touch me," he said, and Crowley did, one of his hands sliding between them to wrap around Aziraphale's cock. The brief friction of Crowley's belly had been pleasant, but less interesting than the feel of Crowley inside him. Now Crowley's clever fingers were curled around him, an exploratory touch that turned almost at once into a confident counterpoint to the thrust of Crowley's hips, because Crowley hadn't stopped moving, and Aziraphale was caught deliciously between sensations. For a confused moment he tried to buck forward into Crowley's hand and back onto Crowley's cock at the same time, and then remembered that Crowley had things well in hand, so to speak. Aziraphale relaxed and held on and told Crowley, somewhat deliriously, "You're doing splendidly, my dear, that's so very good, yes, exactly like that, yes--"

He was unclear whether it was the precise way that Crowley was fucking him and touching him at once, or the beautiful jumble of emotions he was picking up from Crowley, awe and joy and pleasure at the praise; but whatever the reason, Aziraphale was coming in waves of sensation.

Crowley made a soft noise and followed almost immediately, flooding Aziraphale with warmth. He'd waited, dear thing, Aziraphale thought, and leaned forward to kiss Crowley again, both of them uncoordinated and wildly happy.

"Thank you," Aziraphale said softly.

"Oh, shut up," Crowley muttered, with great fondness, and then, "That was incredible, angel."

"It really was," Aziraphale said. He was still entwined with Crowley. He had very little intention of moving, and several plans to further scandalize Heaven's accounting department with a whole host of minor miracles, from the more practical ones involving cleanup to the more fanciful ones involving the manifestation of interesting things he'd seen in shop windows back in Soho. "Let's do it again."

Crowley looked up at him, soft and adoring. "Often as you'd like," he said.

"Thank you," Aziraphale said again. "For waiting."

"I told you," Crowley said. "Worth it. Worth every blessed moment."

"I'm so glad you think so," Aziraphale murmured, meaning it, meaning: I hardly deserved your patience, and I'm so terribly grateful that you waited for me, and I love you, and I have loved you, and I will continue to love you forever. Aziraphale didn't say any of this aloud. He kissed Crowley, lingering, with Crowley still wrapped around him and inside him, exactly as close as they were meant to be.

+

In the morning, Aziraphale packed them another picnic. He still had quite a lot of time to make up for, and he couldn't wait to start.